Jeff Lanctot is an online media executive with ink under his fingernails. The 33-year-old gets up at 4 a.m. every day to read six daily newspapers before work. If that sounds ironic for the man who heads up the media unit of one of the largest independent buyers of interactive media in the U.S., consider that he grew up in the newspaper business. His father was (and is) the publisher of a newspaper chain, and Mr. Lanctot was raised watching his dad build the business, working his way up from a job sweeping the press room.
His newspaper background is also why Mr. Lanctot was chosen as media director at Seattle-based Avenue A back in 1999 even though at 27, he had no formal media experience. His then-boss, Maggie Finch, who as VP-media picked Mr. Lanctot because she says, "a superstar can sometimes come with added baggage. But there's nothing better than a diamond in the rough."
The decision paid off. Mr. Lanctot last year was elevated to VP-media and client services at Avenue A/ Razorfish, which is No. 1 among interactive agencies in the most recent Advertising Age rankings. (In 2004, Avenue A bought Web firm Razorfish and merged the companies.) Mr. Lanctot is responsible for $312 million in billings in 2004 and oversees 100 employees at the aQuantative-owned company. Its clients include AstraZeneca, Best Buy, Disney, Expedia, Nike, Verizon and WeightWatchers.com.
Recent innovative media campaigns include one for Best Buy educating consumers on how to build a digital home. This major branding push featured a site showing the appliances and aspects of a digital home. When users clicked on one area, like the PC, they clicked through to how-to articles on how a digital home works. This customer-centric campaign ran on CNET, MSNBC and i-Village. For WeightWatchers.com, Avenue A/Razorfish did media buys of 1,000 placements on 200 sites over four years to more than triple the site's customer acquisitions.
It is hard to ignore the fact that bosses, subordinates and marketers alike refer to him in terms that bespeak maturity. Married with two children, Mr. Lanctot was in the office by 5 a.m. for months to write the 2005 Online Media Outlook Report-a 25-page volume that prompted one analyst to ask when he was going to join the analyst fraternity.
As the bottom fell out of the Internet market, "It felt like a new job," he says. "My management consulting experience came to bear."
Gradually, small success stories began to surface. Expedia discovered it could build its business. Best Buy's online play helped it grow. Nike came on board. "We emerged at the end of 2001 with a tremendous confidence." The agency achieved profitability by the end of 2002, and has continued to grow every quarter since then.